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The world seems to want, and need, plenty of advice on ways to boost macroeconomic performance. I was drawn to one piece on Project Syndicate that was especially interesting because the author, Jeff Sachs (one of the most famous development economists) introduces his comments by saying:
“I am a macroeconomist, but I dissent from the profession’s two main schools of thought … the neo-Keynesians, who focus on boosting aggregate demand, and the supply-siders, who focus on cutting taxes. Both schools have tried and failed to overcome the high-income economies’ persistently weak performance in recent years. It is time for a new strategy, one based on sustainable, investment-led growth”.read more...»
The Local Government Association (which represents local councils in the UK) have joined the debate about term time holidays for pupils this week. They argue that current rules banning term time holidays or imposing fines on those families who take such breaks do not recognise the complexities of modern families and also prevent poorer families from affording vacations that are invariably dearer during the holiday period.
It struck me whilst reading one of the reports that the suggested policy is to allow head teachers that most quantifiable of options, 'common sense', to make decisions on a case-by-case basis would be the sort of argument that would make me scream if a student wrote it in an assessment answer. Economics students, unlike Local Government officials, need to take a much more analytic approach to this question!read more...»
Reports out over the last couple of days suggest that government spending on free nursery places for 3 year olds since 1998 has not produced any valuable educational or economic outcome. The policy was introduced as part of a series of reforms introduced by Tony Blair when he came to power in 1997. The Blair Government saw it as a method of reducing the differentials between educational attainment of poorer and wealthier sections of society and promoting a speedier return to work for some mothers.
Researchers studying the impact of the policy during the 2002 to 2007 time period, where spending on the policy amounted to more than £7bn found that the education received at age 3 had some impact on attainment at age 5 but any improvements were lost by age 11. The research suggested that the policy had only a minor impact on enabling more women to return to work earlier. Also, there is evidence that 5 out of 6 users of the free place would have gone to a paid-for equivalent at age 3 anyway.
So, does this offer us a good example of government failure in economic and social policy?read more...»
The world's economic order is changing. I struggle with labels for groups of countries. Have you heard of the BRICs, NICs, Next 11, CIVETS, MINTS, LEDCs, MEDCs and the Tigers? Sometimes I feel most comfortable talking about rich countries, poor countries and middle income countries (and when I do, I'm careful to differentiate between economic growth and economic development).
In the years when several large economies appeared to be catching up with the richer nations, the label emerging markets seemed to fit. Those stuck in poverty were then the submerging markets.
I heard a new one (to me) today - a frontier market - it was in an online quiz.read more...»
In 2015, the UN's Millennium Development Goals are expiring and the international community will set new goals. This is a hugely important exercise, so I'm drawn to the discussions as part of the Copenhagen Consensus -
"Effective investments for today’s children are fundamental for a better and more equitable world in the future. The Copenhagen Consensus Centre brings a simple but compelling logic to this endeavor: if we want to make sure that this world is realized for our children, let’s focus on the investments that will generate the most good”.
- Richard Morgan, UNICEF Senior Advisor on the Post-2015 Development Agendaread more...»
One optimistic observation in economics is that poor countries should be able to catch up with the richer ones, since it’s easier to grow from a low level of GDP to a higher one. This observation was made by Nobel-winner Robert Solow in 1956, and is based on the idea that low income countries are poor because their workers have access to less capital. This capital shortage (i.e. insufficient infrastructure) implies that the return on investment should be high, so capital should flow from rich countries to poor ones, leading the two worlds to converge on similar levels of productivity and income.
Furthermore, in this theory, growth in rich countries is driven by new technology which, once developed, could be adopted by poorer economies too. Indeed, the poor could potentially learn from the mistakes made by the rich, and leapfrog directly to more productive ways of doing things.
And so it seemed. From the late 1990s to 2008, poor countries were catching up fast. But that catch up seems to have slowed down (see chart above).read more...»
The Economist have posted a terrific video that takes a tour along the Pearl River in China. As the scenery rolls by, the narrator comments on the extent to which the journey through the surroundings reflects a journey through China's recent economic development.read more...»
Yesterday’s Conservative party conference threw up some lovely economic policy proposals for students and teachers to get stuck into. They certainly grabbed the headlines today with David Cameron’s proposals to increase the personal allowance and 40p tax thresholds. Sky News have some decent coverage which can be used to spark a good discussion.
In Economics, saving offers something of a puzzle. From some viewpoints, savings are a leakage from the circular flow of income, reducing multiplier effects. And if we all saved - in a determined effort to repay our debts (which sounds like a great idea) – the level of aggregate demand (AD) and economic activity would take a serious hit. This is the famous paradox of thrift.
Yet economies do need saving as a fund for business investment. The Harrod-Domar model is used in development economics to explain an economy's growth rate in terms of the level of saving and productivity of capital (see above). But many economies have a savings gap.
Yet I’ve been reading that adults in developing countries are half as likely to have an account at a formal financial institution as those in the rich world. Only 18% of people in the Middle East and north Africa do, compared with 89% in high-income countries. This makes saving even harder. So economists would like the world’s poorest to save more. That would help them to pay for big or unexpected expenses, such as school fees or medical treatment. It could also boost investment and thus accelerate economic growth.read more...»
AVAILABLE TO PRE-ORDER NOW: ESTIMATED PUBLICATION DATE: EARLY DECEMBER 2014
Edexcel UNIT 3 & UNIT 4 Worked Answers is a new printed resource from the tutor2u Economics team which we expect to be available for dispatch from early December 2014.read more...»
AVAILABLE TO PRE-ORDER NOW: ESTIMATED PUBLICATION DATE: EARLY DECEMBER 2014
AQA ECON3 & ECON4 Worked Answersis a new printed resource from the tutor2u Economics team which we expect to be available for dispatch from early December 2014.
The overall rate of infant mortality has been halved in the past two decades.
That's the good news. But Unicef' s latest figures estimate every day 17,000 under-fives die - 6.3 million a year - from largely preventable causes. Most of the deaths happen in the first hours or weeks following birth.read more...»
The growth vrs the environment debate is great for opening a thoughtful discussion about the net benefits of economic growth. Some participants take what might be described as a Kuznets Curve approach to the issue. That might be simply summarised as things get worse to begin with, but after a while they start to improve (OK, I’m simplifying a bit here). In environmental terms, you might illustrate this with the Peak Stuff idea. For several years now, the UK economy’s total consumption of physical resources has been falling. In the past, growth made our economy more and more damaging to the environment. But future growth might have far less of an impact, and even contribute to significant environmental improvements.
What about tropical forests, which observers in the last decades of the 20th century noted were under severe threat? The Economist newspaper seems to take an optimistic view. Future growth may have far less worrying consequences for tropical forests.read more...»
Following a similar format to last week's AS 'World of Economics', this free resource available from the download link below is a rapid 10 minute starter for the first class with your returning A2 students.
Entitled 'Whilst you were away', the resource shows a montage of images. Each image also has a question and all relate to news stories from around the world during the months of July and August 2014. The montage remains on screen with a 3 minute timer fading away at the bottom of the screen - ask your students (individually or in small teams) to answer all 9 questions in the 3 minutes available.
Then go through the answers one at a time - there is an individual slide showing the answer to each question plus a supplementary question for each image to stimulate discussion about how the news stories impact on economics. This is a Powerpoint resource so feel free to edit the questions as you see fit.
Download this engaging teaching resource to test student awareness of the international competitiveness rankings!
You may have already seen Geoff's blog on the newly released International Competitiveness Index. The World Economic Forum annually release its table of competitiveness using a variety of data measures including economic performance, quality of education and labour efficiency. The UK has moved up to 9th in the World.read more...»
According to The Economist there is a long history of efforts to distinguish products that have been made more ethically than others. In the late 18th century, anti-slavery campaigners urged British consumers to boycott sugar from the West Indies in favour of supplies from India. Today’s fair-trade movement took off in the 1960s, mostly in religious organisations that wanted to help the poor, whom they saw as losers in the global trading system. Fair Trade is a really important issue for discussion.read more...»
At the end of last term all our year 12's were set the task of writing a short article about a different developing country. They were tasked with covering:
- Key information- e.g. GDP, HDI, Gini coefficient, indicators of level of poverty/development
- What factors are limiting growth & development in this country
- How is the government and other stakeholders trying to promote growth & development in this country
- How successful have they been so far?
I have collated all these articles together into an e-book which teachers and students studying development economics should find very useful to make use of as part of the course.read more...»
Western Union and MoneyGram dominate the money transfer industry and the high level of fees that these companies has been heavily criticised in recent years. This is an important article given the huge scale of remittance transfers in the world economy to relatively poor countries such as India, the Philippines and many sub Saharan African nations.
Click here for an info graphic on remittances produced by the World Bank: http://econ.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/EXTDEC/E...
Here is a really excellent blog on the issue of growth divergence - Simon Taylor contrasts the historical growth records of the United States versus Argentina and then South Korea against Ghana. The accompanying charts reveal starkly the widening gap in GDP per capita between each pair of countries over the very long term.
I will be following Simon Taylor's blog as the new school year comes into focus http://www.simontaylorsblog.com
Catastrophe Bonds (or cat bonds) are essentially a bet against natural disaster - insurance companies issue the bonds and investors get paid their interest in the event of natural disasters such as earthquakes not happening.
According to the Financial Times, "catastrophe bonds are typically issued for three years and, if no disaster occurs in that period, bond investors receive a good payout; otherwise, they have to pay out themselves."
Do the investors such as pension funds and insurance companies truly understand the risks that they are taking with (our) money?
Duncan Weldon investigates in this BBC Newsnight report. Ultra low interest rates in advanced economies appear to have encourage pension funds to search for riskier assets (a search for yield) to improve their return on their assets. A major natural disaster could trigger huge losses for those who have piled huge sums of money into them.read more...»
Here is a link to a video report produced by the IMF as part of their annual assessment of the UK economy. Overall, the IMF is considerably more optimistic than it was in 2013 about prospects for near term recovery of output and continued reductions in unemployment.
Risks to macro stability are also considered, namely weak productivity growth and high housing pricesread more...»
This is an absolutely outstanding article to use when introducing development economics to a level students. The work of Hausmann and Hidalgo on complexity and economic development is becoming more widely recognised and used in schools. Hausmann's article here in Project Syndicate emphasises the importance of building capabilities within an economy to promote the growth of higher value added industries. Here is the link to the article: https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/ricar...
The Russian central bank has raised their main policy interest rate by 0.5% to a new level of 8% in a bid to control inflationary pressures in the Russian economy.read more...»
Three years on from the riots and deep economic, financial and political crisis, is the reforming Greek economy turning a corner and improving outcomes for the key macroeconomic indicators. Professor Paul Collier labelled Greece as a "sub-merging economy" a little while ago but there are now some positive signs reflected in this highly relevant news report from the Financial Times. I have added some key macro data on Greece and other troubled Euro Area countries using data from the IMF World Economic Outlook.
Guardian: Greece forges template for economic recovery as tourists pour in: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/03/greec...
BBC video: Pain in paradise for struggling Greeks: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-28012089read more...»
An important landmark for the UK economy? Britain’s economy is finally larger than it was before the financial crisis six years ago. FT economics editor Chris Giles analyses the data and warns that continuing weak productivity means output growth will be slower than before the crisis - an excellent analysis of the key macro indicators suitable for all A level economics students.
I have added some charts on the UK drawn from the latest IMF world economic outlook.read more...»
This Mini Lecture discusses issues of labour productivity, low-wage work and economic growth of emerging markets.read more...»
Each year the Human Development Report published by the United Nations gives a special focus on a particular issue related to development. In 2014 that issue is vulnerability.
To quote from the opening of the report:
"Real progress on human development, then, is not only a matter of enlarging people’s critical choices and their ability to be educated, be healthy, have a reasonable standard of living and feel safe. It is also a matter of how secure these achievements are and whether conditions are sufficient for sustained human development. An account of progress in human development is incomplete without exploring and assessing vulnerability."read more...»
A new online comedy series launches on Thursday 24th July!
The series tells the story of Scott and Adrian, two lovers on the verge of break up. Scott runs an oil company – bath oils that is – and Adrian spends their money as if it’s his own. Will they work things out or will Scott go it alone? All will be revealed when the series launches this August in time for the Scottish independence referendum.read more...»
Ed Miliband has told his party's national policy forum that the party must change policy from their traditional approach of raising spending and taxes, saying ''Higher spending is not actually the answer to the long-term economic crisis''. Some members of the forum wanted to force a vote for an immediate increase in public spending should Labour win the next election, but proposals committing Labour to new spending on housing and school meals were withdrawn at the forum in Milton Keynes.read more...»
In London and much of the South East, the recovery has been well under way for a considerable time. House prices boom and restaurants are packed. The economic data for the UK as a whole looks just as encouraging, with employment being at its highest ever level.read more...»
This interview with Jurgen Maier of Siemens is well worth reading on several different levels. It challenges the conventional wisdom that UK will always lag behind Germany in terms of high value added manufacturing; it refers to the economics risks of Brexit (Britain leaving the EU) and it also stresses the importance to the UK of foreign investment from German businesses many of which have been in the Uk since well before the first World War - Siemens and Bosch are two well-known examples.read more...»
Shareholder activism regarding executive pay is covered in this article from the Guardian. Note too the emergence of TNT Post as a competitor in the cities for final mile delivery of business and household mail - the mail market is becoming more contestable.
The Royal Mail's latest market report is an interesting read for those who want to study market dynamics in more details - for example the continued growth (but high contestability) in parcels contrasted with a trend decline in the volume of letters sent through the post - click here for the 2014 market overview: http://ar2013-14.royalmailgroup.com/overview/marke...
According to The Economist, the great commodity boom caused by the industrialisation of China and India provided an unprecedented boost to the terms of trade (defined as the ratio of the price of its exports to that of its imports). Yet now the commodities boom may be running out of steam, these countries face a challenge.read more...»
The Philippines has enjoyed a period of rapid economic growth in recent years and attracted increasing attention as one of the fast-growing economies of South East Asia. Can this growth be sustained? What are the risks, challenges and the constraints facing the country? And how can the benefits of growth contribution to a transformation of economic and human development? This blog provides links to some useful resources:read more...»
The financial crisis has undoubtedly created a demand in popular culture for works which portray capitalism in a bad light, such as the recent best seller by Thomas Piketty. Piketty’s writing has gathered increasing attention from economists, and his arguments do not really bear scrutiny.
The focus of Piketty’s work is the long-run evolution of the ratio of capital to income. He claims that this is now high by historical standards, and will rise even further as the 21st century unfolds. Wealth will become more concentrated and inequality will rise inexorably even more.
The message that capitalism inevitably leads to greater inequality is one that many people want to hear. Unfortunately for them, it is wrong. Piketty assembles an impressively large amount of empirical evidence. This shows clearly that from around 1910 to 1970, inequality actually declined sharply across the West.read more...»
Data on export patterns for goods from countries around the world provide a fascinating window on the degrees of complexity that nations have achieved. There is growing interest in the significance of knowledge capital or know-how in lifting productivity, competitiveness and improving trade performance for economies at different stages of development. Below is my selection of countries.
There then follows links to videos from Cesar Hidalgo and Riccardo Hausman on their theory of productive knowledge - and in particular how it is acquired at the level of the individual, the level of organizations, and cities, regions, countries and societies.read more...»
You will probably be aware that assessment in the new AS and A level in Economics (starting in September 2015) will have a much greater emphasis on numeracy and quantitative methods. 20% of marks will be awarded to answers based upon number work and interpretation of graphs, charts and tables.
Whatever your view on the merits of this change, there is no doubt that it brings one of the biggest challenges to teachers of economics since the year 2000. Tutor2u have put together a team of experienced teachers with different awarding body knowledge to create resources and give advice through a series of CPD events during the 2014-2015 academic year.
If you look through any of the specimen papers from the three main awarding bodies you won’t be surprised to see a huge emphasis on calculation of percentages, use of index numbers and the need to understanding fractions and ratios. You can already imagine the increased use of elasticity calculations and having to work out costs and revenues.
Did you know however (depending on your exam board choice) that your students may have to calculate opportunity cost ratios for comparative advantage, dependency ratios, quantity theory of money, terms of trade index, national income multiplier and marginal propensity to consume? Imagine a marginal social cost/benefit diagram with figures included! Have you ever asked students to convert money in real terms? How do you think they will cope with medians and quartiles?
Our team are working on resources and advice to hand out to teachers for our ‘New to A level Economics – Quantitative Methods’ CPD days. Details about times, dates and locations to follow soon.
In these short interviews with the Financial Times, economist Gerard Lyons highlights some of the key drivers of the global economy and he paints a fairly positive picture of the prospects for developed countries in an ever-changing world economy. In the second interview, Gerard Lyons, 'The Consolations of Economics' author, discusses with John Authers whether the system is safely retuned, and whether it can boldly go into a universe of greater growth opportunities.
Observer review (3 August 2014): http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/aug/03/conso...
Independent review (July 2014): http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/bo...
Evening Standard: http://www.standard.co.uk/comment/gerard-lyons-lon...read more...»
With World Bank Group support, millions of Rwandans are on their way to integrating to regional power and transport networks, boosting their agricultural productivity, and delivering results for their families. This is a short info graphic video from the World Bank together with some related links to useful resources on the Rwandan economy.read more...»
An interesting piece in the Economist about the current state of the output gap – the difference between an economy’s actual output and its potential output.
Paul Ormerod argues that this value is almost impossible to estimate, so it is a pretty useless concept. Others think trying to estimate the size of the gap is valid, and knowing how much spare capacity the economy has could be a crucial guide to economic policy makers.
What are the thoughts of economists who have been looking at recent OECD data?read more...»
Christine Lagarde is Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund. She was appointed in July 2011. This blog links to the 2014 Amartya Sen lecture given at the LSE in the summer of 2014 on the topic of empowerment and in particular how women can build capacity and capabilities in countries seeking durable development - see also this blog from Mrs Lagarde in September 2013: http://blog-imfdirect.imf.org/2013/09/23/lagarde-w...read more...»
This new short video from the World bank looks at the economic benefits that flow from investment in an improved road network in Senegalread more...»
Although Indonesia has experienced significant growth and development, not everyone has benefitted. This short video from the World Bank offers a personal story. Followed by up a July 2014 blog from BBC Global Business on the rise of the wealth elite in Indonesia.read more...»
The varied nature of Economics means there are so many (sometimes it can seem too many) themes to explore. And priorities change. Sometimes the main issue is production (making more stuff – and how the value of that is measured). Sometimes it’s exchange (looking at how markets work). Yet distribution (often overlooked, especially when economies are booming) seems the hottest topic at the moment. Inequality tops the bestseller lists.
Here are a few tips and links for using the topic as an intro to A2 economics, great for macro, with scope for analysis and evaluation of UK government policy and approaches to development economics.read more...»
Here is a selection of development data for Cambodia put into context with a selection of other Asian countries, drawing on published data from the Asian Development Bank. This blog will be added to shortly with summary notes on the economy and links to other useful resourcesread more...»
Question six for the RES competition in 2014 is bound to produce a large number of answers. Labour migration is an important economic, social and political issue and many students will have clear views on the issue. So what will make an essay stand out from the crowd?read more...»
Drawing on data from the 2013 Human Development Report, here are the 24 countries in the 2014 World Cup ranked according to the Human Development Scoresread more...»
This question gives students a superb opportunity to explore the debate surrounding economic growth in in the leading advanced nations of the global economy. It ties in well with research into the effects of globalisation and the legacy from the financial crisis. I have put together some reading and short video clips that might be relevant to the discussion:
Secular stagnation: (or .... growth pessimism!)
"Secular stagnation refers to the idea that the normal, self-restorative properties of the economy might not be sufficient to allow sustained full employment along with financial stability without extraordinary expansionary policies. The idea was put forth first by Alvin Hansen in the late 1930s." (Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/20...)
One common interpretation is that - if we are in an age of secular stagnation - and this is an idea that might just be wrong! Maintaining demand often requires extensive periods of ultra loose monetary policy which in turn can create fresh bubbles in property and equity markets.
Is the secular stagnation argument too pessimistic? Can advanced economies rev up the engine of growth once more perhaps by using structural reforms to boost their competitiveness and drive new investment?read more...»
You may have already seen my blog/tweet sharing the 'Higher or Lower' game. Below you will find a brand new version of the game featuring the 32 countries taking part in the FiFA World Cup starting tomorrow.
The aim of the resource is to get a feel and understanding of some of the important statistics relating to the economic performance of the countries. In this addition, students can attempt to work out whether the 'higher' or 'lower' statistic relates to predicted GDP growth, unemployment, inflation and Government debt alongside the country's FiFA world ranking.
Teams are presented with the name of a country and its statistic in their chosen category. They are also presented with the name of a second country. They must say whether the second country has a higher or lower statistic. This is repeat a further three times allowing the team to score a maximum of 4 points per round.
Have some fun and get a feel for countries statistics at the same time! Is there any correlation between economic and football performance?
Click here to download the file.
Note: The economic statistics accredited to England are those of the entire UK. Sorry, I was unable to find the statistics relating to just England!
Here is the recording of Geoff's webinar for A2 Econ students which focused on key aspects of the international & global economy, including a focus towards the end on development economics.read more...»